Rutten goes for certainty in important week
Although the performance in Sunday’s match against Ajax would suggest that there is much to be optimistic about, the results under Fred Rutten could not be called satisfactory. With that in mind, the coming matches against Go Ahead Eagles – Wednesday in the KNVB Cup and Saturday in the Eredivisie – loom large for Feyenoord. ‘It’s time we started rewarding ourselves,’ said the coach on Tuesday ahead of the cup tie in Deventer.
The KNVB Cup is perhaps even more important than it has been in recent years, as this year’s winners automatically qualify for the group stage of the Europa League, the same prize given to the team that finishes third in the league. ‘In the cup we can secure European football directly in a small number of matches,’ reasoned Rutten. ‘That is very attractive, also because you have a completely different preseason than this year, as you don’t have to play any qualifying rounds. So there’s a big reward for winning the cup.’
The importance of the cup alongside a run of disappointing results for Feyenoord in recent weeks means that Rutten will not tinker too much with his starting eleven in Deventer. ‘Bearing in mind the current situation we are not in a position to rest players. This week we are playing two very big games against Go Ahead Eagles, who are also real cup fighters. So you cannot go experimenting.’
Among other things, that would suggest that Kenneth Vermeer will be keeping goal in Deventer, although earlier this season Rutten admitted he was considering giving Erwin Mulder a run-out in the cup. ‘That decision has to do with the certainty this team wants to have in recognisable situations,’ he said, before saying something about Mulder’s position. ‘It is logical that he is disappointed, but in spite of his disappointment Erwin has conducted himself professionally recently.’
Moving on to the team as a whole, Rutten said that the Ajax match proved that his side is physically strong enough to play in the same formation two matches a week for a long period. ‘We are physically very strong. That allowed us to put Ajax under pressure for ninety minutes on Sunday. I wasn’t surprised, because each player has been following a personalised programme.’